Chapter 1

2873 Words May 13th, 2012 12 Pages
Chapter 03 - Federalism

1. Governmental Structure 1. The single most persistent source of conflict in U.S. politics since the adoption of the Constitution has been the relations between the national and state governments. 2. Today, an effort is underway to reduce national gov’t powers, giving more strength to the states; this effort is known as devolution. 1. Some proposals give states block grants in which states get money that they can spend in any way they want—as long as it is within broad guidelines set by Congress. 3. Federalism is the political system in which local units of government and a national government make final decisions with respect to at least some governmental activities
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1. In fact, it wasn’t until the 10th Amendment that states actually received power; in that amendment, all power not given to the national gov’t are given to the states. 2. On the other hand, it seems that the national government has usually retained these “other powers” anyway, despite what is said, due to support from the courts. 3. The language used to describe national/state government relationships was vague, and it was later left up to the courts to interpret it. 4. Knowing that they could not possibly list every single power that Congress could have, the Founding Fathers added the elastic clause: “Congress shall have the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” 1. Coming out of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, different views of federalism were carried: (1) Alexander Hamilton believed that the national government was the superior and leading force in political affairs, since the people created it and its laws were the “supreme law of the land;” (2) Thomas Jefferson believed that “the people” were the ultimate sovereigns, and since the states was a result of agreement among the states, the states were supreme over the national gov’t. 1. Hamilton believed that the Constitution could be loosely interpreted while

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